Johan Santana could return next week

Updated: September 6, 2011, 9:19 AM ET
By Adam Rubin | ESPNNewYork.com

MIAMI -- New York Mets left-hander Johan Santana may return to the major leagues next week, coinciding with the one-year anniversary of surgery to repair a torn anterior capsule in his left shoulder. Meanwhile, in another positive injury-related development for the Mets, first baseman Ike Davis indicated he very likely will not need surgery on his injured left ankle.

Santana and Davis visited teammates Monday at Sun Life Stadium, where the Mets open a three-game series against the Florida Marlins.

Santana plans to throw in a Florida State League playoff game with St. Lucie on Friday if that club has a game that day. Otherwise, he will represent Savannah in a South Atlantic League playoff game the same day.

With minor league seasons likely completed by his next turn, Santana said he could be pitching two or three innings for the Mets in his subsequent appearance. Santana is recovering from Sept. 14, 2010 surgery to repair a torn anterior capsule in his left shoulder.

"I would love to be at the major league level," Santana said. "There's no question about it. I mean, I would love to be at the major league level right now. The reality is that I can't. We have a process that I have to follow. And if my next outing everything goes fine, then it might be a possibility of being at the major league level."

Still, assistant general manager John Ricco noted there is more adrenaline flowing and intensity in a major league game, so there needs to be more organization dialogue before it is firmly resolved that Santana will appear in the majors next week with continued progress.

"It's a totally different animal than instructional league," Ricco said.

Santana said he would not be worried about being over-amped in a major league appearance.

"Nah, I don't think so," Santana said. "I've been doing this for a long time. ... Adrenaline is going to be there, but a few innings is not like you're pitching the whole game."

Fall instructional league and even winter ball in Venezuela "if I have to" have not been ruled out for further action, Santana added.

Davis still needs to visit team doctors in New York when the Mets return home after the series against the Marlins, but he is confident ankle surgery is not necessary. Davis unexpectedly has been sidelined since a May 10 collision with third baseman David Wright while pursuing a popup in Denver that seemed harmless at the time.

"You're talking about a guy who walked off the field in Colorado and said, 'I'll be ready for tomorrow.' Four months later he hasn't shown up yet," manager Terry Collins said.

With Collins and team trainers observing, Davis went through a workout at Sun Life Stadium on Monday afternoon.

After running relatively pain-free for a week at home in Arizona, Davis had reported to the Mets' complex in Port St. Lucie, Fla., this past weekend. Davis began hitting off a tee and with soft tosses. He also took grounders and played catch and reported no notable difficulty.

Davis plans two more days of workouts with the Mets in Miami, then will shut down activities for a month to recuperate.

"I haven't had a lot of pain," Davis said. "The last two weeks I've been really pushing it. It's stayed pretty consistent and it hasn't gotten worse. The past the more I'd run on it, the worse it gets. It's not 100 percent, but it's at the point right now where I am moving around pretty well and can do basically about everything. It's still a little tight and there are some things in there that maybe in more time it might heal.

"Right now the reason we're not going to have surgery is because I don't think it's going to be beneficial. Obviously it's not ruled out, but as of right now it looks pretty good. I have to go to the doctors and they'll have final say and everything, but right now it feels pretty good."

GM Sandy Alderson last month had indicated Labor Day would be the deadline to decide whether surgery would be necessary. Two procedures have been available: a less-invasive arthroscopic surgery to clean out the area, and a more-involved microfracture surgery that involves making tiny cracks to stimulate blood flow and cartilage regeneration.

Davis wanted to have surgery performed months ago, but the team's medical staff advised waiting. Now there's optimism a procedure can be avoided.

Early in the process, Davis wore a protective boot for six weeks, with the medical staff unaware cartilage damage existed. The boot restricted circulation, Alderson has acknowledged, and potentially slowed Davis' healing.

Still, Davis expects some residual issues for the remainder of his career. He has been warned about the potential for arthritis in the ankle as he ages. But, he added, plenty of ballplayers manage discomfort.

"There's going to be some effect of this later in life," Davis said.

Adam Rubin covers the Mets for ESPNNewYork.com.

Adam Rubin has covered the Mets since 2003. He's a graduate of Mepham High School on Long Island and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He joined ESPNNewYork after spending 10 years at the New York Daily News.
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